Way back in 2008 Xbox Live Arcade got a little game by the name of Castle Crashers. Since then it has become one of the most successful arcade games with 3 million people purchasing it on Xbox Live Arcade alone. Not only has it been successful but it is also one of the most fun games you will play with it’s beat em up style and co-op gameplay. In 2009 Behemoth revealed that their next project would be BattleBlock Theater which had a similar art style. 5 years and we finally get this game but was the 5 years of anticipation worth it at all, or would there next game be a letdown for this long anticipated wait? Or did it live up to the name that is “Castle Crashers?”
His voice acting sets the mood of this hilarious game and the dialogue is over the top and witty in every remark. The first cut scene had me dyeing of laughter and immediately hooked to this story of “Hatty Hattington.” “See Hatty was the like King of friendship Kingdom. Friends to one and all! But then Wizoo, wizooo! A storm came and BOOOM thunder!” (Watch the opening monologue, you won’t be disappointed) From the opening monologue you learn all about Hatty and how they have crashed onto this island filled with “Hideous adorable abominations” (Cats). These cats have taken Hatty the best friend of the wrecked “SS. Friend Ship”. They have taken him and now have control of his mind with an evil hat. All of your other friends have been captured and thrown into prison where you are forced to perform dangerous stages for a crowd of cats. Not only that but they force you to eat prison food! “You must be really brave to eat that! I mean it tastes like doodoo casserole! With a side of butt salad!” These are just a few of the many hilarious quotes in the game as you try to save the best friend to one and all Hatty Hattington.
The gameplay is a 2D platformer but would you say that 2D platforming has gotten a little stale because many platformers try to copy the style of Mario? This is not the case with BattleBlock Theater. This game is original in every possible way. You may go side to side in a level or top to bottom, maybe even back, and forth. The thing that really sets this game a part though is that each block that you step on does something different. Some blocks you can walk across, others have spikes, iceblocks, treadmills, jump pads, climbing bars, shooting cannons, hover pads, movable blocks, bridge blocks, and this list goes on and on. You will at times need items to make it across the stage. Maybe you will need wings to fly, jetpacks, a pig that you can ride, etc I will say one thing, the creative minds of Behemoth just doesn’t seem to end. The thing I liked most about each stage is that they introduce you to new blocks and items throughout the game slowly like they would do in a Mario game. It keeps the game going at a steady pace and is never repetitive. As far as the mechanics of your characters goes you have a double jump, punch, kick, slide, duck, and a weapon you can use at any time. The double jump is done to perfection and it shocked me at times on where I could actually get to with the double jump. Some of the most fun missions to me was when you needed to use climbing bars on ceilings or on sides of walls above water or spikes never able to touch the ground. You would have to maneuver through taps and cannons to reach each climbing bar. Your character can not swim by the way. Don’t worry though, you can find paper boat items at times to put in the water. Getting the boat into water will be a little tricky at times though. This game is filled with puzzles throughout this game and at times you will need to think about how you will reach your destination. This isn’t a platformer that you mindlessly go through one side of the level to the other. You need precision and strategy at times. On normal mode you can get checkpoints throughout the level to make your journey easier, but on insane mode you only have one life to make it across each stage. And this game does get hard so if you think you are good at platformers and you want a challenge then look no further. Now they did add a ton of unlockables like weapons and prisoner heads so you can change your character. There is about 10 weapons and 500 heads! To unlock these you need to collect gems and yarn balls in each level of the game. Some of these are tricky to get but if you collect all of them and complete the level at a quick time with no deaths you will receive an A+ and double the gems you unlocked during that level. For completionists it will be mighty hard to get an A+ on each level but you are more than welcome to try. The only complaint I have about the entire gameplay of BattleBlock Theater is that you have to press start to change weapons. You can change at any time throughout the level so they should have just let you press a button at any time. Very minor but at every other point this game is superb.
The fun doesn’t end there though! The multiplayer will give you tons more playtime. It took me roughly 5-8 hours to beat BattleBlock on normal, but since then I have put another 10 hours of gameplay by playing through insane and multiplayer. You can play co-op, capture the pig, territories, soul capture, and even basketball. Every game is chaotic and reminds you a bit of Super Smash Bros but with different objectives. My favorite would be capture the pig where you have to get across the obstacles to the enemies base and ride there pig back to your base. This is easier said than done! They may have grenades or other weapons waiting for you so don’t expect it to come easy. You can trade prisoners, weapons, gems and yarn balls so the multiplayer is never ending with this game so even if you stop playing the story, the multiplayer will have tons more hours of gameplay waiting for you. Oh and did I mention that you can create your own levels!? Yeah it truly never ends!
The style of the game is much like Castle Crashers and even has a few of the same enemies and characters as Castle Crashers. It’s almost like it is in the same world. I wouldn’t be surprised to be honest. The colors are vibrant and the characters stand out as being unique just like the rest of the game. I will say that most of the characters are not as likeable as Castle Crashers though. Even though many of the characters are great you are only able to choose from a few different colors. Don’t wprry though, if you own Castel Crashers or Alien Hominid you can play as an Alien Hominid or a Castle Crasher. I think they should have let you choose from multiple colors for each item to give you a little more customization but once again this is a very small complain.
This game is superb in every way and joins the top tier arcade games of this generation. We talk about Castle Crashers, Journey, Trials, Limbo, Minecraft, and Braid but move over because BattleBlock Theater has joined this prestigious group. This game is unique and possibly one of the best if not the best platormer I’ve ever played with a hilarious story to go along with it. This is a must buy if you like chaotic fun, platformers, or a funny story. If I gave you an opinion I would give this a game a perfect 10 but because I need to be objective this is what I think people will think of it.
Artstyle – 8.5
Gameplay – 9.5
Story – 9.0
Platforming genre – 9.5
Multiplayer – 9.0
Overall - 9.1